Lewis Takes Title Back from Munn

     On the same day Joe Stetcher wrestled Stanislaus Zbyszko for the recognized version of the World Heavyweight Wrestling Championship in St. Louis, Ed “Strangler” Lewis challenged “Big” Wayne Munn for his disputed Michigan-Illinois World Heavyweight Wrestling Championship.  Lewis dropped the title to Munn in February 1925.  In April 1925, Zbyszko defeated Munn in a famous double-cross.  The match between Lewis and Munn was to put the title back on long-time champion Lewis.

     Lewis and Munn wrestled on May 30, 1925 in Michigan City, Indiana.  Two days prior to the match, Lewis won in court against current World Heavyweight Wrestling Champion Stanislaus Zbyszko.  Zbyszko tried for a court injunction to bar Lewis from claiming the World Championship.  Zbyszko knew after he legitimately beat Munn, the Gold Dust Trio promotion would put the belt back on Lewis, a legitimate wrestler.


Ed “Strangler” Lewis practicing wrestling

     While wrestling was prearranged, the wrestlers tried to hide the fact from the public.  Several writers suspected both title bouts on May 30, 1925 were arranged finishes, they didn’t have any proof.  However, the bouts were meant to complete the double cross.  Zbyszko was dropping his title to former World Heavyweight Wrestling Champion Joe Stetcher.  Ed “Strangler” Lewis would take back the disputed title from the man he loaned it to.


Photo of Big Wayne Munn during his wrestling career from 1924 to 1926.

     Lewis didn’t want to embarass Munn any more than he already had been in the match with Zbyszko.  Lewis made Munn look good before actually letting Munn pin him with a crotch hold and half nelson at 24 minutes, 55 seconds.  Lewis and Munn built excitement for the match with a promotional stunt.

     When Munn won over Lewis in February 1925, Lewis claimed he lost due to injury and refused to turn over the championship belt.  Munn had a different belt during his reign.  Munn refused to continue unless Lewis turned over the belt to the commission.  The winner would have the original title.

     Lewis took over in the second fall.  Early in his wrestling career, Lewis used a version of the stranglehold employed by 19th Century wrestler Evan “Strangler” Lewis.  After the move was banned, Lewis switched to the headlock.  Lewis employed the headlock freely in this match.  After a series of 20 headlocks, Lewis pinned Munn after 17 minutes, 11 seconds.

     Lewis blew through the third fall much quicker.  7 headlocks led to the third and final fall at 7 minutes even.  Ed “Strangler” Lewis was the World Heavyweight Wrestling Champion again despite the disputed status of his title.

     “Big” Wayne Munn would wrestle for a few more months before quietly retiring in 1926.  Only five years later at 34 years age, Wayne Munn passed away from kidney problems on January 9, 1931.  Munn was living with his wife and daughter in San Antonio, Texas at the time.

     Ed “Strangler” Lewis would reclaim the undisputed title in 1928, when Joe Stetcher agreed to do business with him.  Lewis won the World Heavyweight Wrestling Championship four times in his career.  Lewis wrestled from 1905, when he was 14 years old, until 1948, when he was a legally blind 57-year-old.  Lewis lost his eye sight from trachoma, which he contracted from dirty wrestling mats.

     When do you think professional wrestling started prearranging the matches? You can leave a comment or ask a question about this or any post in the comment section below, on my Facebook pageTwitter profile and Google+ page.

Source: The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, May 31, 1925 edition, p. 12


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